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Salmon Crisis Raises Cost and Supply Concerns


Will the price and availability of Alaskan Salmon be impacted by conditions in California?

by Randy Hartnell

Last week, we reported on the closing of the Pacific coast Salmon fishery from Oregon to Mexico, which was caused by the collapse in numbers of King Salmon born in rivers that flow seaward from California's Central Valley (See “California Salmon Crisis”).

This closure has nothing to do with the Alaskan Salmon fisheries, which are in great shape, as we also reported last week (See “Alaska Projects Healthy 2008 Salmon Harvest”).

We've received quite a few calls and emails from customers concerned that the closure of the Pacific coast Salmon fishery might affect the availability or price of Alaskan Salmon, including our Alaskan Sockeye, Silver, and King Salmon.

Here's a representative letter, followed by my reply:

One customer's letter of concern


I regularly eat your canned Wild Red salmon, unsalted.

I assume that the collapse of the Salmon fisheries in California, Washington and Oregon will put pressure on the Alaska fisheries to take up the slack.

Certainly there will not be enough wild salmon to fill all of the current market after the collapse of one major source.

Will your supply of Alaska salmon be reduced?  Will your product become unavailable at some time in the next year or longer?  I will stock up now on cans if I know that the supply may become disrupted down the line.

Do you anticipate a price increase?


David D.

My reply

Dear David,

Thanks for contacting us. I appreciate your concern about this important topic, which actually has received quite a bit of exposure in major newspapers across the country of late (In fact, I was recently interviewed about it by The New York Times).

While the collapse of the west coast Salmon runs is most unfortunate, the fact is that market supply and demand has no bearing upon how many fish will be caught in Alaska, where management biologists give priority to achieving spawning goals, not satisfying market demand.

Only surplus fish above and beyond Alaska's spawning or “escapement” objectives will be harvested and available for the market, whatever the demand.

If the cumulative number of fish caught in Alaska this year is as high as projected, the Alaskan harvest may easily offset the relatively few fish normally supplied by the recently closed Pacific coast Salmon fisheries. As nature is fairly unpredictable, only time will tell.

In addition, because most of the “lower 48” wild Salmon typically go to the fresh marketas opposed to the frozen and canned marketstheir absence should have relatively little impact upon the canned Salmon you purchase from us.

I hope you find this information helpful and reassuring. Thanks again for contacting us with your concerns, and also for your business.

Best regards,

Randy Hartnell, President

Vital Choice Wild Seafood & Organics


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